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Polenta lasagna is a dish that substitutes polenta for traditional pasta sheets. Polenta is an Italian food that is made from either white or yellow cornmeal. It is much lower in calories than regular pasta and can be layered with sauces and cheese, much like pasta sheets, in traditional lasagna. Polenta can serve as a substitute for pasta or grits in many other dishes. It is served as a main meal or a side dish.
Using prepared polenta is the easiest way to make polenta lasagna. Prepared polenta comes in a firm, plastic-encased roll and can be found in the refrigerated produce section of most supermarkets. There are several varieties of polenta available, from plain versions to those infused with herbs or dried tomatoes, any of which are appropriate for polenta lasagna. The roll is firm but soft and can easily be sliced for layering in lasagna.
Polenta lasagna is much lower in calories than traditional, pasta-based lasagna. A one-pound roll of polenta, which is typically sufficient for a standard-sized lasagna, contains about 315 calories. A single pasta sheet can contain up to 250 calories, and several sheets are usually needed to make lasagna. Substituting polenta for pasta can be an effective weight-loss strategy. Polenta is also appropriate for vegetarians or those with celiac disease or another gluten intolerance, as polenta contains no gluten.
Preparing lasagna with polenta is similar to the preparation of regular lasagna. Thin slices of polenta are spread in the bottom of a baking dish and then layered with cheese, meat, sauce, or vegetables depending on personal preference. This layer is topped with more polenta and the layers are repeated, ending with a top layer of polenta and, perhaps, more sauce and shredded cheese. The lasagna is then baked until cheese is melted and the meat and vegetables are cooked and heated through.
Polenta can be substituted for pasta in many other dishes besides polenta lasagna. It is a tasty replacement in various casseroles that call for pasta or can simply be grilled and topped with fish, vegetables, cheese, or any kind of sauce. In addition to its prepared roll form, polenta can also be found as a boxed dry grain in the pasta section of grocery stores. Liquid is added to the dry polenta to form a creamy, grits-like base that can be used as a stand-alone side dish or as a grits substitute.